By Kyle White Belfast Newsletter
Ulster Superbike frontrunner Ali Kirk has called time on his career after admitting he has lost the motivation to continue racing in 2022.
The Dromara man won the Irish Supersport title in 2008 and finished as the runner-up last season in the Ulster Superbike Championship, when he was beaten to the trophy by Alastair Seeley.
Kirk also enjoyed racing on the roads and competed at the North West 200, Ulster Grand Prix, Cookstown 100 and Frohburg in Germany.
He made the decision to step away from road racing at the end of the 2018 season following a dark year for the sport, when Dan Kneen, William Dunlop and James Cowton were among the riders who tragically lost their lives.
A well-liked figure in the paddock, the Co Down man says he began to lose his desire for racing in recent years after finding it impossible to replicate the buzz of racing between the hedges.
“The roads were the only thing that really spiced my season up and when I quit them it just hasn’t been quite the same buzz,” Kirk said.
“I got a sickener after what happened in 2018 when a number of great lads were killed and I stepped away from doing the roads.
“I always did say that whenever I quit the sport, I wanted to be healthy, fit and still quite fast; I didn’t want to be dragging it on and start to get slower before I finally decided to step away,” he added.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a year or two now and I just think the time is right. To be just going to two tracks each year wasn’t doing it for me and I feel I’ve had my fill of it.
“Between building the new BMW S1000RR last year and going racing, the cost was over £50,000. I’ve never gone racing for money, ever since I started when I was 16, so I’ve been in debt to motorbikes since I began.”
Kirk – who is now getting his two-wheel fix by riding enduro bikes at weekends – especially enjoyed racing on the Dundrod course at the Ulster Grand Prix, where he finished second to newcomer Peter Hickman in 2014.
“I never had any luck at the North West and whether it was red flags, races being cancelled or the bike breaking down, I only finished about two races,” he said. “I never had any success there really and I didn’t really enjoy the track.
“The Ulster Grand Prix was my favourite road race and in 2014 I finished second to Peter Hickman, who was racing at Dundrod for the first time in the Dundrod 150 Challenge race.
“I had a lot of top 12 finishes at the Ulster Grand Prix in the Superstock races and in 2015, I finished fifth in the Supertwin class on a Supertwin that Michael Sweeney lent me.
“I always seemed to have a decent run at Dundrod and I’ve lapped there at 129mph, which wasn’t too bad; I was close to a 130mph lap without just getting there.
“Cookstown was the only Irish national race I ever did and I got sixth in the main Superbike race. I thought that would have lit my fire for the Irish road races but they just weren’t for me at all.”
Kirk plans to spend some time away from the short circuit paddocks but is set to help out his good friend Michael Sweeney this year, starting at the North West 200.
“I love the sport and I’ve quite a few good friends,” he said.
“‘Micko’ Sweeney already has me roped into helping him out – by the sounds of it he thinks I’m going to be his crew chief!
“I’ve enjoyed it and I owe so much to my uncle, Jason McCurry (McCurry Motorsport), who’s been with me from day dot.”